Cash, Currencies and Money Exchange in Central Europe

Samantha Barbagallo  ·  9 / 3 / 2017

You might think that the Euro would be widely used in the whole Europe by now but the truth is that many countries have not switched to yet and have different currencies.

What countries use the Euro?

The Euro is the currency of many countries in Europe and from our Go Real Europe destinations you can pay with Euros while traveling in Germany, and Austria or enjoying one of our excursions to Slovakia. 

But many other countries also use the Euro. They include Andorra, Slovenia, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino.

* We only offer Slovakia as an excursion, not an overnight destination.

Even though the Euro is not officially used in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, you can still find shops, restaurants and bars in the city center of capitals, accepting this currency, however, be aware that they may be using a poor exchange rate and they will give you your change in local currency. 

What is the currency in the Czech Republic?

The Czech Republic is the Czech Crown. Czech banknotes are issued in the following denominations: 100/200/500/1000/2000/5000. There are also coins with the following denominations: 1 CZK, 2 CZK, 5 CZK, 10 CZK, 20 CZK, 50 CZK

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Czech Republic Bank Kurona Coins Currency.jpg

What currency does Poland use?

The Polish currency is the Polish zloty (PLN). Polish Zloty banknotes are issued in the following denominations: 10/20/50/100/200. There are also coins with the following denominations: Groschen coins 1/2/5/10/20/50 (50 Groszy is half 1 Zloty), then 1/2/5 Zloty Coins.

Polish-Zloty-Bank-Notes - What currency to use in Poland?

Polish-Zloty-Coins |  What currency do I use in Poland?

What currency does Hungary use?

The currency in Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). Hungarian Forint banknotes are issued in the following denominations: 500/1000/2000/5000. There are also coins which have the following denominations: 5/10/20/50/100/200.

 Hungarian Forint Bank Notes.jpg

Hungarian Forint Coins.jpg

What is the best way to exchange currency in Europe?

All major airports and rail stations in Europe have ATMs in their arrivals halls, so you can pick up your local currency as soon as you arrive at your destination.

Should I exchange money before I travel to Europe?

Some travelers prefer to have their money in their pockets before arrival, which can occasionally prove to be useful, for example, in case they have a problem with their bank card. In that case, we suggest you come with 100 Euros, broken down into 20 Euro bills or smaller.

You can also come with the other currencies you will need as well, but these currencies may be harder to change in your local bank. You can still use Euros outside of the Euro currency zone, although you will get a very bad exchange rate and return in local currency. You will also get a bad exchange rate in your local bank, which is why we suggest you only change a little money before you arrive.

Just make a mental note to visit the ATM at the airport or rail station upon arrival.

Is not it expensive to use ATM's abroad? Will not I get charged?

Even with fees, ATMs are usually the cheapest option for getting cash. When you use an ATM, your bank should exchange the money at the interbank rate, which is much better than the rate you would have been able to exchange the currency at home, ordering the currency from a currency exchange website or exchanging cash at exchange booths. Most stores and restaurants also accept credit cards, and again the money is exchanged at the interbank rate.

If you have multiple ATM cards, you should check to see which one has the lowest fees. Even if you have one ATM card, check to see if it is a percentage fee or a transaction fee. This will help you determine how much to withdraw per ATM visit.

Is it safe to use ATM's in Europe?

Bank ATMs are usually very safe to use in Europe. However, there is a trick you should be aware of. Some ATMs, including those of big banks, use a very shady tactic to make some extra money from you. After you enter the amount of money you want to withdraw, using the local currency, a new message pops up that looks something like this:

"Would you like to accept a guaranteed exchange rate of ###$ for ###€? If you do not accept this offer, we cannot be held be responsible for the exchange rate you are given.”

Or something else to that effect. Sometimes they instead just offer you the option to select the amount you want to withdraw in your home currency.

In any case, do not accept. This is just a sneaky way for the banks to add a 2-3% commission onto your ATM transaction. If you simply enter the amount you want to withdraw in the local currency, the money will be exchanged at the interbank exchange rate, which is the best rate possible.

Will ATMs have English text?

All ATMs have English text and are everywhere.

Will my bank card work with overseas ATMs?

If you will decide to use them, do not forget to inform your bank that you will be using the card overseas. In some cases, your bank will block overseas transactions unless they have been informed before hand that you will be traveling.

When taking money out of the ATM in the Czech Republic or Hungary, be sure to select an "Other Amount" rather than one of the standard amounts, which are multiples of a thousand Czech crowns or ten thousand Hungarian forints. By selecting "Other Amount" you can pick an amount which gives you some smaller bills. For instance, if you withdraw 1,800 crowns you can get one 1,000 crown note and four 200 crown notes. If you withdraw 2,000 crowns, you might get one 2,000 crown note only.

There are also other options but… The only time we suggest currency exchange booths is when you are traveling from one foreign country to the next and have some unused currency from the last country remaining. Otherwise, we suggest using ATMs instead.

Can I just exchange money at currency exchange booths?

Although there are currency exchange booths located throughout the tourist areas, you will lose a lot of money on poor exchange rates if you use them as your primary method of exchange. Even if the exchange booth says they do not charge a fee or commission, the cost is still there, it's just hidden in a poor exchange rate.

They also often advertise decent rates on their doors and hide the fact that the exchange rate is only valid for large transactions. Once you've handed the money and discovered the poor exchange rate, the only way you can get it back is by exchanging the money a second time!

Should I exchange money on the street?

No.

It probably goes without saying, but avoid people offering to change money on the streets. They will offer a too-good-to-be-true exchange rate, and then slip some outdated or foreign bills into the mix.

How can I keep the exchange rates straight in my head?

If you would like print up a handy currency converter before you leave home, go to the web page www.oanda.com/currency/travel-exchange-rates. Enter the currencies you will be using (your local currency vs. EUR and/or CZK, HUF, PLN) and then click on "Get my FXCheatSheet". Then click on "Print Friendly FXCheatSheet Results" to print up a small cheat sheet that you can cut out and put in a wallet or purse.

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